30 November 2015

What's Your Favourite Model?… Part 1

So it's a straightforward question, with I suspect a rather difficult answer, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Is there a model out there, in your collection or on a wish list, that just ticks all the boxes - gives you a warm tingly feeling in your stomach (or other places) every time you see it?

I have lots of favourite models – the Tenderiser is the latest addition to the list – and all for different reasons. However, there are a couple that are particular favourites that I love to bits. But the question talks about a single favourite, so I'm forced to make a decision.

My overall favourite has to be Epic Lylyth from Hordes. It's an odd choice in one sense as I don't find the Privateer Press models that appealing as a collection, compared to some other manufacturers, but now and again they do deliver a corker.

I love the pose of the model and the movement. The Lylyth character herself has a great balance of sexy and deadly, but this incarnation takes things to a new level. The fact that she is blind (in the fluff, if I remember correctly) and has her eyes covered by a visor adds a extra bit of mystery to her character (and means I don't have to paint eye…yay!). Her pose also hints at a story unfolding – she's shooting at something behind her, seemingly on the defensive. From a gaming perspective her additional height makes it easier to draw line of sight to her, but there has to be a trade-off with the dynamic pose.

I do have this model in my collection but am embarrassed to say it's not painted!
The model itself, for such a large bit of metal, is balanced on a plastic base and aside from a pin in her bow arm (no brainer given its exposed and vulnerable nature) the model went together easily. I love the detail on her armour and the shape of her cloak. Cracking model all round and one that gives me a warm tingle of admiration (and guilt at not painting mine) every time I see it.

So what's your favourite miniature?

Let me know in the comments below and I'll post a few of them in a follow up. I'm interested to see how people's opinions differ and am intrigued if it's down to the the type of wargames you play, whether you simply paint, or some other factor that may contribute to which miniatures people admire most.

28 November 2015

Strike A Pose!… Part 2

Waaaaay back in February 2010 I did a ranting post about the static nature of a lot of Games Workshop's space marine models. With the arrival of the rather dramatic Tenderiser model, I thought it was about time to have another look at the poses on offer with the miniatures we buy.

Obviously we're almost 6 years down the line since that post first appeared and whilst GW have made some minor improvements (I don't really pay much attention to them so can't honestly comment), there is plenty of drama creeping in elsewhere.

When Wyrd released the Ten Thunders faction (above), what seems an age ago, we got a glimpse of what might be achievable – and in plastic for a bonus.

Image from BoardGameGeek

With the release of Malifaux 2E, and their re-designing of all the Malifaux models in plastic, Wyrd have definitely thrown the shackles off and are going all out dynamic (Death Marshals above).

The other manufacturer on my radar when it comes to dynamic poses has to be Raging Heroes. Their Toughest Girls range (in all its incarnations) are so dramatic and simply stunning models.

When the Steamforged Games crew were designing the models for Guild Ball, they seem to be going out of their way to offer some stunningly posed models. This can be witnessed first hand in the videos I talked about earlier this month.

The hobby is littered with very static looking models. Sometimes (when ranked together) this is a must as more flamboyant poses would be a hinderance (something that used to be a problem with Warhammer Fantasy models at times). However, when playing wargames with small model counts there is nothing better than fielding a collection of eye-catching, dramatically posed models. This is one of the things that has drawn me to Guild Ball and makes buying every model in a team a must.

I'm happy to say that you don't have to look very far to find some beautifully dramatic models. Things are definitely moving on!

27 November 2015

New Butcher Team Additions

Not wanting to be out-resourced by Bull with his fully fledged Masons team, I picked up the two remaining Butcher models that I've had my eye on.

Shank had been an advised addition – thank you Doc Bungle (go read his GB team talks!) – and when looked at again it made sense to add him to the roster. I love the fact he has a 2" melee range and lots of lovely special rules. Given the bulk that my Butcher's team already has, anyone who is mobile and retains a deadly streak is a welcome addition.

Tenderiser is the first of the Butcher's Season 2 models. Aside from the fact that he is a goalkeeper (my favourite position on-field in any sport) the model pose is simply stunning. Regardless of rules there was no way I was passing on this guy. Any model that is posed so that no part of him touches the base – airborne! – is a must. Plus he looks like a horror movie bad guy.

Image from Cool Mini Or Not

Could this be the coolest model ever?

That pose would be wonderful as an Ork Warboss or Khorne Bezerker.

Now I just need to build and paint this team – sounds like a Christmas project to me!

25 November 2015

Painting Eyes

Bit of fun today as I map out how I go about painting eyes.

To make things easier to follow I've quickly drawn up a set of "Mr Potato Head" diagrams, rather than spend hours painting up a model that's not always easy to see.

To start with I'll paint the flesh basecoat colour over the model's face. I usually start with Burnt Umber.

Next I will paint black all around the eye sockets. I don't worry about being too tidy at this stage.

Once the black is completely dry I paint a horizontal white line, making sure it encompasses the whole of the eye.

Again, making sure the white is completely dry I paint a vertical black line. I make sure that the line is in the same position on both eyes – wouldn't want the model to look cross-eyed!

Now comes the tidy up stages…

I go back in with the black and define the eye shape by getting rid of excess white.

I then do the same thing with the flesh base colour over the black, leaving a little bit of black around the eye to help define it and help it stand out.

And that's it. It's not dainty but it's always worked well historically for me (even more so with my failing eyesight, lol).

Let me know how you paint eyes – see if it's a technique I prefer ;)

Guild Ball Blog Posts…

A list of the various Guild Ball posts to be found on this blog…




23 November 2015

Painting Progress: Guild Ball Ox

Painting time has been scarce recently but I have managed an hour here and there over the last couple of weeks to keep things moving.

My main focus has been my Guild Ball Butchers team, and my team captain Ox. Since the last update I have given the skin a Sepia wash to bring a bit of warmth back in. I then set to with the red paint, using my Blood Angels recipe to ensure the red was truly eye catching. It still all a bit shiny due to the number of washes on there but that will be fixed with a matt varnish at the end.

I then moved onto the leather straps which was a four layer process – burnt umber/black followed by burnt umber, highlights in a burnt umber/ochre mix then a dark brown wash. I kept the highlight subtle as I don't want these bits to jump out too much.

For the trousers I started with a P3 Cryx Bane Base and Black. A mid-highlight of Bane Base was followed with a final highlight of a bit of white added to Bane Base. It's a bit harsh at the moment as it's waiting for a wash to knock things back and blend it together.

I ended my session last night by repainting Ox's hair and beard with black. I'll add a couple of grey highlights to this at some point, but it's all heading in the right direction so far.

Once a wash has gone onto a model it has to dry thoroughly so it's not practical to try and paint something else on the model until this is done. I use a second model as a time filler while the washes dry, but kept things simple by painting the GB ball.

I wanted a medicine ball look to it so used a similar recipe to the leather straps above. This time, however, I've done a lot more very thin layers to get a better graduation of colour on the spherical shape of the ball. This photo was taken just after I repainted the base brown so there is a muddy look to it (albeit the light bleached out the image a bit).

I'm having a lot of fun painting at the minute. As much as I'd like to spend more time painting, the limited opportunities is probably adding to the enjoyment. It is the first time in ten years (maybe) that I've painted eyes on a model and I'll do a post later this week to show how I go about it – see if it differs from how you do it.

Stay tuned!

17 November 2015

How To Sculpt A Guild Ball Miniature…

I may not have had much time to paint my new Guild Ball team but I have found some time to research lots of Guild Ball goodness. During my online travels I came across the Steamforged Games You Tube site, which has a few gems hidden in there for sure.

Amongst the hobby tutorials and latest news videos, there are some 'live' videos of the guys explaining the sculpting process. I've watched most of them now, they're really fun and I've learned a lot. If you happen to own one of the miniatures that they showcase then there's an added level of interest. I also find my appreciation for the GB miniature range increased after this – so much love and attention to detail have gone into them.

If you're intrigued by the digital sculpting side of our hobby, or Guild Ball's your thing, then this is definitely worth half an hour or so of your time. You'll look at the miniatures differently after this, and give them more attention when your painting!

16 November 2015

White Dwarf: The Horus Heresy Edition

The Horus Heresy box set has been playing on my mind recently, after some online discussions. Is it the bargain of the century or is it another expensive GW cow-milking exercise aimed squarely at the space marine fan boys. I used to be one of those fan boys a decade ago and would have sold my soul to get my hands on something like this back then, regardless of price. Nowadays though I'm a little older and a little wiser (just a little) and not so easily taken in by shiny photos and beautifully painted miniatures.

I put in a cheeky request with the wife as she was leaving for town on Saturday, asking her to go to the one place she hates more than any – the local "sweaty geek shop" as she calls it – to get hold of last week's Horus Heresy edition of White Dwarf. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about, plus I had read somewhere it has a free miniature on the cover.

She returned some hours later and the first thing I discovered was that the free miniature was actually a free metal badge of an Ultramarine space marine – why? what possible use or value does that have? Secondly the edition cost only £2.40 which seemed remarkably cheap compared with the last WD I purchased, but then I discovered it's because there are only 34 page in this edition!

(I'd just like to say that I think this is a sad state of a magazine with so much history and heritage, but there you go.)

The 'magazine' itself turned out to be more of a glossy brochure for the Horus Heresy game, with shiny pictures and a lot of text I couldn't bring myself to read because I know it's just marketing hogwash. I had a flick through but personally was unmoved.

So, is the game worth it from a model perspective (assuming you're just in it it for the sprues)?

The box set was advertised in the magazine for £95 (£85 at Element Games) and for that you get 30 mk4 tactical marines, 5 terminators, a dreadnought, a terminator captain and a chaplain. If you were to purchase the same plastic models (though not heresy era of course) it would cost you £75 for 30 tacticals, £28 for the terminators and £28 for the dread – that's £130 before your character models (£111 from Element Games).

I think that's a resounding bargain, a saving of approx. £60-70 on buying regular models – and they're heresy era stuff as a bonus. So all you marine players out there… buy, buy, buy!!

15 November 2015

The Guild Ball "Classic" Mat

My Friday post this week saw me frothing at the prospect of receiving my 'Classic' Guild Ball pitch, a printed neoprene mat. As expected Element Games games through and the parcel was waiting for me when I got home. I didn't manage to open it until last night and have a little while to give it the once over. Taking advantage of our still very empty kitchen extension I took some photos to accompany my thoughts.

The mat arrived folded up in an A3 box (as explained on the EG site). This is not a problem as the mat doesn't retain any folds. I has some weight to it and almost unrolls itself on the surface (in this case the wooden floor). It even has rounded corners – a small thing but excellent addition.

Just like the mats I have for Aetherium, it's like a giant rubber mouse mat and is, in my opinion, almost the perfect surface for gaming on (aside from a beautifully constructed terrain board of course). When it comes to playing Guild Ball it will be perfect, especially thanks to how mobile it is. Unlike Blood Bowl, where the temptation is to create a lavishly constructed stadium, this surface feels more suitable for GB and will protect the miniatures a lot more should they fall over or be laid on their side.

Just to back up the mobile aspect, it comes with a great carry case. Unlike a rigid tube, the case will allow you to fit the mat into any small space left in the car boot (trunk).

I was feeling a lot of love for this mat (too much if I'm honest) and then I spotted an issue. Don't worry, it's a "Mike" issue that 90% of people won't notice and most of the rest wouldn't consider a problem. However, being who I am and doing what I do for a job, I felt a little gutted at what I see as a flaw.

The pitch graphic itself, it turns out, is not an illustration as I had assumed (like my Woodland mat) but a photo montage of bits of grass and bits of someone's bare lawn. It's obviously been blended together in Photoshop but it's been done poorly where the transitions between image bits are blurred and scale is inconsistent. No attempt has been made (it seems) to go back in and work the images together more. It's more a patchwork quilt effect.

In addition, the pitch markings are floating on top of the grass photo detached entirely from the pitch below. They've been distressed so they look worn, but they don't sit amongst the blades of grass and don't look three dimensional or textured in any way – looks more like a floating mist effect. I've left the graphic above quite large so you can hopefully see what I mean.

Don't get me wrong, it's a quality product but the graphic looks rushed to me. Shame as it could have been perfection. Yet as I said, most people won't notice, I just have the curse of the trained eye for such things.

So I fully recommend you get one of these before you start playing! Excellent stuff!

14 November 2015

Return Of The Specialists

The gaming news during the latter half of the week was dominated by the story that GW are creating a new Specialist Games department and the likes of Blood Bowl, Necromunda and Battlefleet Gothic will return in some form or other.

The initial knee-jerk reaction this by most was a resounding "woo-hoo!", myself included. However, having had time to think about this a bit more will the reality pan out quite as we expect?

The first thing to clarify is that this is not an official GW venture and will fall under the Forgeworld banner in some way – these games (including the continuation of LOTR and Hobbit) will definitely be playing second fiddle to 40k and AoS. All in all this is not an issue – Forgeworld seem to have a more sensible approach to things, whereas GW still have a somewhat skewed perspective of the gaming landscape and their place within it.

Looking at this from my personal perspective there are a limited number of things that interest me here. I love the idea that BB, Necro, BFG (and hopefully Mordheim) will be resurrected and supported. Yet Blood Bowl has survived for a very long time supported by the worldwide community alone. The rules are free to download, and as far as I can tell very sound still – I don't think I want a set of new rules that I have to pay £50 for, or spend £100 on a box set. If they're going to create a host of new teams of gorgeous models then that's great, but I don't want BB to be turned into another premium cash cow to the detriment of the game itself.

Necromunda and Battlefleet are both games that we used to play way back and I've offloaded all my models. I do still have the rulebooks for both so, again, would rather not have to shell out significantly for updated rules – though shiny new models are a different matter. If they were to take a Guild Ball approach and have starter faction box sets and the rules were free (unless you wanted a lovely shiny book) then this would be a great outcome. However, I suspect that all these games will be released as Horus Heresy-type boxed games that are expanded over time. In this case we could be looking at £100 startup per game!

Epic, Warmaster, Inquisitor, Man O' War and Gorkamorka I've no interest in myself, but if they were to re-release Mordheim – huge box set or no – that would be a game I would struggle to resist I think. I never played it first time around (sticking to the 40k environment of Necromunda instead) but this appeals to me much more now that my gaming horizons have expanded.

I'm also glad they're continuing the Lord of the Rings range. I'm hoping they will re-release the original rulebooks as I only own a borrowed set (which I must return one day). These models have already been a great resource for other gaming exploits, so any new stuff would be greatly received.

So after the initial "is it fake or not" stories, followed by the "confirmed!" reports I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the new Specialist Games division. It will either be the best thing from GW in a long time, or taint a beloved gaming history. Fingers crossed!

13 November 2015

Pitching Guild Ball

Image from Steamforged Games
Today I was meant to post about the great painting progress made last night on my Butchers models, but little Finn's continued distress-filled time with his teeth completely scuppered the evening… and the night's sleep.

Instead I thought I'd post a word or two regarding my excitement about the Guild Ball classic mat (that I ordered yesterday, cough).

I already own a couple of well printed vinyl mats (a space mat for X-Wing and a Woodland mat for Hood) and so when I saw the Guild Ball pitch being touted I thought "why bother?". However, after some internet trawling yesterday I discovered that the Guild Ball mat is actually printed on neoprene – boom!

Image from Steamforged Games
Now, those of you who have been following Aetherium's progress over the last two years will know that the boxed game comes with a beautifully printed neoprene mat. I have two of them (a mis-sized prototype and the final shiny version) and I cannot express how truly awesome and versatile they are. Whilst I don't play Aetherium myself (yet) I use the mats all the time. I have one permanently on my desk as an enormous mouse mat. The other I use on the dining room table when playing Zombicide, cards, Subbuteo, whatever. It's a beautiful thing to behold. It doesn't crease, it retains its shape, it doesn't smell like plastic. It's the perfect gaming surface. Beautiful I tell you.

Image from Steamforged Games
And discovering the GB mat was neoprene too, well my resolve cracked… nay, crumbled… and the order went in immediately. It should arrive today as Element Games are super fast at dispatching in-stock items and send everything via 24hr post. I will have a good close look and post my final thoughts next week (it also comes with a carry case!).

Hopefully we'll see the missing painted miniatures soon!

11 November 2015

Painting The Butchers – Ox

Check it out – painted models!!

Yes, it's been 7 months since the last painted model showcase on the blog but finally there is fresh paint on new models… well, a single model.

After building my team at the weekend, I had given the Butchers a watery black undercoat on Sunday evening and on Monday evening I gave them a second coat of black/brown. The wife was out last night so I had the evening to myself – perfect for getting some painting done. Alas my baby son thought it was also the perfect night to grow some more teeth, so was unsettled all evening.

However, I did get some time to put a bit of flesh colour onto my captain, Ox (though the photos are a little washed out). I started with Vallejo Burnt Umber and gradually added more and more Bronze Fleshtone to the mix. It reached a point where the next step was pure Fleshtone so I added a touch of white instead, to stop it looking too cartoony (the Fleshtone is quite bright!).

I also did something I haven't done in a very, very long time… eyes!!

I still need to add a wash to blend things together a bit more, and maybe add in some darker shadows, but I'm very happy with the direction things are going.

I don't think this flesh recipe will work with Brisket so will have to try something a bit more girlie for that one. But I don't need to worry about that just yet. I want to get this model under my belt first.

Stay tuned!!

09 November 2015

Building The Butchers

The ever-efficient Element Games delivered my new Butcher's models on Friday – just 24 hours after ordering – and so the tone was set for the weekend. I had to somehow find time to build my starter team. I managed to grab an hour or so on Saturday afternoon (our wedding anniversary no less) to break out the superglue and get some construction done.

I'll be honest, I was not looking forward to building these models. My experiences with the Mortician starter team bought at Salute were lingering in the back of my mind and I was hoping things would be smoother this time.

Ox was the first up for the simple reason he was pretty much a one-piece model. He needed an axe attaching to his side and I was contemplating how to pin such an exposed addition when I noticed a perfect axe-shaped groove cut into the main model. A blob of superglue later and Ox was on the sidelines drying off.

Next in line was Brisket – another straightforward model in theory as she only needed an arm attached. This would definitely need pinning but I discovered that there was precious little volume in the arm in which to drill a hole. I did just about enough to get it in place and repositioned the arm so that I could tack the hand to her thigh, for added support. Job done!

The ball was not an issue, I just has to fill the bulk of the slot with greenstuff to hold it in place. I wanted the ball to rest on the surface, not look like it was stuck in thick mud.

Then it came time for Boiler. I had been leaving him till last as he had two arms and a leg that needed gluing in place and it wasn't going to be pretty. Needless to say it became a bit of a pig to put together. I had to glue his right arm, right leg and main model into the base all at the same time in order to get their relative positions correct. Well I got covered in glue and limbs were falling out all over the place! Eventually I got it somewhere close to where it needed to be so I walked away. A little while later I came back and added his left arm and stowed axes on his back. I have to say that this model only needed the left arm pinning (as it was so exposed), the rest stayed in place well.

I added a bit more greenstuff across the board (as you can see) in order to fill gaps in the base slot and add some texture to the surface. Once dry I added some Red Oxide to the entire base surface.

I also have to add that in contrast to the Morticians, these guys had almost no mould lines on them and were cleaned up in no time. Brisket was the 'worst' and had a little flash next to her hair but Ox was completely clean!

Sunday evening I got another half hour to give them all a black undercoat. For the first time ever, I think, I didn't use a spray and brushed on some watered down black paint. Hopefully this evening I can give them a second coat then we're onto some colour. With that in mind I can say with some confidence that we may actually see some models with paint on this blog before the end of the week!

Miracles do happen ;)